On Investigating the Church and its Truth Claims

“If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.”

              -George A. Smith (8th President of the Church), Journal of Discourses, Volume 14, page 216

“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

              -J. Reuben Clark (member of the 1st Presidency for 28 years)

“The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind insist that facts are far more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs, no matter how unpleasant the facts or how delightful the beliefs.”

              -Hugh B. Brown (member of the 1st Presidency), General Conference, October 1962

Informed consent:

You have the right to know sufficient information – positive and negative – prior to making important decisions. Limiting information or only presenting the good and omitting problematic information is not ethical or honest. You should never be made to feel guilty or wrong simply for researching or seeking information. You also have the right to get information from any source – you can discern for yourself whether that source is valid. This can be done by corroboration with various sources, cross-checking to source documents, etc. One website that I found to be very helpful is mormonthink.com. It’s a non-biased collection of various issues and it presents both sides of each issue and includes direct links to sources, such as the church’s website.

A word on “anti-Mormon” sources:

Often the term “anti-Mormon” is thrown around to discourage people from reading or listening to anything that is not positive about the Church. This is simply not appropriate. Just because someone/something points out a negative aspect about the church, that does not make them anti-Mormon and it does not automatically discount what they have to say. Even if someone is angry about something, that does not automatically disqualify them from being listened to. Maybe they have a valid reason for feeling angry. Also, disagreeing with or questioning the church does not make one “anti-Mormon” any more than simply disagreeing with any other faith makes one “anti.”

Feeling negative feelings when researching:

A lot of this information will be new to you, and it may be contrary to things you have learned in church. This will naturally make you feel uncomfortable or negative feelings. This is completely normal. It can be hard to have our beliefs challenged. We are sometimes taught that negative feelings are warnings from the Spirit, or that they come from the adversary. Please understand that this is not true. Any information that challenges our worldview is going to make us feel this way. It’s completely normal. For example, when you were a kid and you asked me directly to tell you the truth about Santa, you were sad. Learning the truth made you feel badly, but that didn’t make it not true. And even though that was hard at the time, it was better to know the truth once you were ready to hear it. Also, we will often learn of awful things that happened in history. It naturally makes us feel negative emotions when we learn about atrocities, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.

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